Further, I've been taught at the college level by some professors, grad students, and recent "brilliant" graduates who wheedled adjunct positions, and... brilliant as many of these people are, teaching is not something that comes naturally to all of them. Or most of them. And of those who like to teach, you often hear grousing about how college students aren't sufficiently interested in learning, aren't prepared, aren't motivated, don't contribute enough in class... These aren't people who are going to have fun teaching K-12, nor are K-12 students likely to find it at all fun to be in their classes. Teaching involves a lot more than a brilliant mind and mastery of subject matter.
Further, is it always sensible to get true subject matter experts to teach K-12 subjects? Let's be honest for a moment. You don't need a Ph.D. or even a masters degree to have ample subject matter knowledge to teach middle school math or English. It's not necessary to overstate the academic credentials required of teachers, nor is it necessary to suggest that the bulk of the nation's teachers aren't qualified to teach their subjects.
The Post sugests,
As the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. reported this fall, fewer than one in four of U.S. teachers are coming from the top one-third of college graduates, while the world's top performing systems recruit 100 percent of their teacher corps from the top third.Sure, part of that may be attributable to those other nations being willing to treat teachers better and accord them better pay and more respect. But I suspect if you look at both the quality of their colleges versus the quality of U.S. colleges, or the range of opportunities available to college graduates who want to stay in the nation, you'll find additional reasons why a significant subset of their top graduates go into teaching. Also, the nations referenced in the article to which the Post links are "Singapore, Finland, and South Korea" - relatively culturally homogeneous nations with positive cultural attitudes toward education. As that article notes, there's reason to doubt the measures applied to determine if, in fact, the claim is true.
There's nothing wrong with wanting top performing college students to become K-12 teachers. Perhaps improved compensation would improve recruiting numbers among those who have desire to teach - I don't think we're going to get teacher salaries up to the level that we truly lure top graduates away from the professional fields. But I think it's a mistake to assume that achievement in college translates into teaching aptitude, or that merely because the top third of graduates tend to focus on other avocations there aren't large numbers of qualified, competent, capable teachers emerging from our nation's colleges.